Humanity agency gets psychological about its work

Senior staff from T1 have launched an agency with a creative process centred on understanding consumer emotions.


Humanity is a new agency in Toronto that aims to put behavioural and social sciences at the centre of its integrated offering to better understand consumer emotions and drive more relevance for brands.

The agency was co-founded by a number of staff that were previously at experiential agency T1, including creative director Carolyn Shaw (now Humanity’s president and CCO), senior director of strategy Ryan Hughes (now VP of strategy) and group account director Lisa Walton Rixon (now VP of client relationships). T1′s president and CEO Mark Harrison is working with Humanity’s staff in an advisory role. Across departments, the agency has 20 staff, many of whom were previously at T1.

Humanity is a full-service agency, offering creative, strategy and design, but will take a behavioural and psychoanalytical approach to its process as a way to uncover consumers’ emotional state-of-mind, underlying needs and motivations.

IMG_1453[1]“Great creative is rooted in strong strategy found in data and insights, but these insights need to be more than just numbers,” says Hughes (pictured, left).

The agency is doing this through a segmentation approach it is calling the “Wellbeing Framework,” which is based on elevating four dimensions of wellbeing: functional wellbeing (being able to carry out basic tasks for everyday living), esteem wellbeing (feeling good about themselves and who they are), social wellbeing (feeling able to make valuable contributions to society and other people) and transformational wellbeing (feeling like they are evolving and growing as a person). The approach begins by understanding what a client’s target needs to elevate those dimensions, and then determines how those needs pertain to a client’s category and then to their brand.

“This ensures we understand the real motivations of human behaviour, and not what a research respondent wants us to believe or believes their motivations to be,” Hughes says. “This rigor is non-negotiable for us and something we deploy on all work. Through measuring these across all four dimensions, we’re able to identify where in the life of the target a brand can best support wellbeing, and where this target wants them to support.”

The approach was developed in partnership with Research Strategy Group, a strategic insights consultancy focused on brands and innovation.

Profile[2][1][3][1]While in the process of launching an agency this year, in the backdrop of a global pandemic that has affected everyone in some aspect of their daily lives, Shaw (pictured, left) says they came to the realization that the world needs “more humanity right now and going forward.”

“Some people could say this is the worst time to start a new business, we like to think that maybe this is the best time,” Hughes says. “New values, priorities, and attitudes have rapidly changed the way people live their lives. This is the reality of the new human experience and what led to the launch of Humanity.”